How To Make A Product Go Viral | EDITED

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In the internet age where unassuming TikTok videos blow up in a matter of hours, finding the recipe for viral success seems to be a case of potluck. But with retailers like Zara and Cult Gaia creating repeat hits and managing demand, there is a deliberate formula to success. 

This article looks at the three Ps – production, pricing & promotion – and outlines how retailers can harness EDITED data to create viral success.

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Key Takeaways

  • Invest in dopamine hues and eye-catching prints that stand out on social media posts. Retailers should increase investment in trending items currently seeing sell outs with no discounting, which, combined with a strong marketing strategy, can increase the chances of a product going viral.

  • Retailers should produce limited production runs of items to quickly identify fast-moving products and increase the chance of full price sell outs. This enables trending items to be replenished and updated in new colors/prints with a short turnaround time, the strategy behind many of Zara’s viral items – including its recent pink satin dress.

  • A common thread among viral products is a surprisingly affordable price point for either quality or the retailer. For instance, Aritzia’s viral Melina pants are competitively priced 30% below the median advertised full price of all leather pants in stock on May 28th, 2022.

  • Increase consumer demand by previewing upcoming launches and enabling customers to sign up for notifications when their size comes back in stock. Ecommerce retailers should also take inspiration from ASOS and highlight current trending styles on its ecommerce websites and apps to create a sense of urgency.

Defining Viral

EDITED classifies a product as having gone viral as being when it is worn by a substantial number of influencers and prominent celebrities and, as a result, receives widespread attention through both new and traditional forms of media. This, in turn, leads to instant and/or multiple sell outs and replenishments that cement its demand by consumers.

Product

Choose Colors that Pop on Instagram

While colors that form part of a retailer’s year-round, core offerings – such as blacks, whites and neutrals – are more likely to result in sell outs than trend-driven colors, products that go viral online are regularly those in bright hues.

Consider summer’s top performing blazers. While neutrals dominated items that arrived between January 4th – May 4th, 2022, and saw a first majority sell out with no discounting over the same period, trending Kelly greens followed closely as the second most successful color – EDITED customers will know our Retail Analysts first identified this trending hue back in October 2021 (login to revisit the report).

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Opt for Eye-Catching Prints

Remember Réalisation Par’s Naomi skirt from 2018? It went viral for its flattering fit and leopard print design. The following year, Topshop also saw viral success with its range of satin midi skirts, which came in a variety of prints and colors. The winning skirt formula was evident: midi lengths + satin fabrics + bold colors & patterns + easy silhouette = a sartorial success.

For Spring 2022, we can identify that floral print skirts are the most successful print by far, with 62% of all patterned skirts seeing sell outs without discounting. 

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Case Study: Zara’s Viral Dress

Despite not relying on influencers or a strong online social media presence, Zara regularly sees viral success. This could suggest that the winning formula doesn’t just lie in clever marketing, but instead in a deliberate combination of data-driven strategy and infrastructure.

The retailer tends to capitalize on a trending product by releasing new colorways – evident with the success of its pink satin dress leading to the same style being released in candy lilac and green (see below). Its ultra-fast business model allows Zara to move quickly with production, getting products from initial design into store within 13 weeks, and to turnaround a product in as little as two weeks, enabling it to move fast on trending designs.

Create a Flattering and Inclusive Shape

Versatile, inclusive and easy fits are also a common theme among viral dresses. Analyzing Spring 2022 arrivals, midi-length dresses saw the most sell outs with no discounting. This shape regularly features on viral dresses – from Zara’s 2019 polka dot hit to House of Sunny’s green lily pad dress. Flattering and inclusive shapes are also a must to increase the chances of a product going viral, which, in turn, should lead to sell outs across multiple SKUs.

This can be achieved through loose-fitting silhouettes and deliberate ruching in places that flatter various body shapes and sizes. For instance, With Jéan’s Alexa terry cloth dress went viral on TikTok, with mid size influencers highlighting how the ruching helps to accentuate their waist.

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The ‘Hype and Demand’ Model

On the flip side, retailers could also use directional pieces to create viral attention and use them primarily for editorial pieces, while opting for more commercial items in their main collection to drive sales. An Instagram account called @asbos_sos regularly pokes fun at a range of ASOS products that cause controversy, demonstrating how this model can be used to create a buzz online. Should retailers opt for this marketing strategy, they should invest in low quantities and not expect sell out results. 

Managing Supply

As products go viral online quickly, retailers need an agile strategy to sense demand and react swiftly. Brands should make limited production runs of one item to easily spot the products that are moving fast, thus enabling them to increase the chance of sell outs at full price. For many fast-fashion leaders, products can be replenished or updated in new colors/prints within one to two weeks. By adopting this small scale approach to trends, retailers can quickly react to demand and pivot production accordingly.

For smaller, independent brands, a pre-sale model can help identify interest and generate buzz around new launches. Cult brand, House of Sunny, has seen success with this model, which has resulted in many of its items going viral.

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Images via House of Sunny

Pricing

Affordability

A typical highlight among viral products is a surprisingly affordable price point in relation to either quality or the retailer. For instance, Aritzia’s vegan leather Melina pants, priced at $148, sit 30% below the median advertised full price of $192.68 for all leather pants in stock on May 28th, 2022 across all US retailers.

Customers are Willing to Pay More for Trending Styles

For almost all retailers, aside from PrettyLittleThing in the UK, dresses that arrived between January 4th – May 4th, 2022 and saw a first majority sell out with no advertised discount, did so at a higher price than the median advertised full price of all dresses, indicating that customers are willing to pay more for products that are in demand. In particular, in the US, both Forever 21 and Mango are seeing their dresses sell out at prices 25% higher than their median advertised price.

viral fashion trends

Promotion

Previews & Coming Soon

If your brand doesn’t offer pre-orders, build hype around upcoming launches by previewing them on your website and social media platforms. When product sizes sell out, encourage your customer to sign up to receive an email or app notification when the product is back in stock. 

Influencer Marketing

The majority of brands that go viral have built up strong relationships with influencers. Whether this is through gifting or paid advertisements, it’s important to get your product into the hands of creators to increase your chances of it going viral.

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Zara Website – May 29, 2022 & M&Co Email UK – May 27, 2022

Site Navigation

Take cues from ASOS, which highlights trending products on its ecommerce website that customers should take note of. Not only does the retailer have a ‘trending now’ section on its main navigation menu, it also places ‘selling fast’ tags on hot products to further incentivize customers to buy now.

Create a TikTok Strategy

As 24% of its global audience are women aged between 18 and 24, retailers targeting a younger consumer base should ensure they have their own TikTok page to further fuel items trending on the app. 

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ASOS App – May 29, 2022 & PrettyLittleThing Email UK – Mar 19, 2022

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